Dom Smith chats to Johnny Took of the band DMA’S about how he defines success, how he has developed as a person since the beginning of his career, the new DMA’S record and the inspirations behind it along with how he has developed a new love of reading.
Bands like the DMA’s are in no short supply at the moment, but the band separates themselves from the pack by leaning into pop-melodies more than their counterparts. The enchanting songs they create now by leaning into more of a pop flavour show their ambition. The three-piece band formed In 2012 in Sydney and consists of Thomas O’Dell, Matthew Mason and Johnny Took. Their breakout single in 2014 titled ‘Delete’ put them on the map. Their albums have done well on each continent as well with their second album ‘For Now’ reaching No.13 in the UK charts.
With all this success, what does it mean to Johnny Took? “I guess I still pinch myself thinking about the position that DMA’s are in because obviously we’ve watched it grow and it’s been six years now since we released our debut EP and ‘Delete’ in 2014.”He continues this by talking about the bands early days touring the UK, “For a young band even we spent a lot of money coming over to the UK and working those markets and travelling around in a little city van, doing the big drives and going to all the little towns that we never heard of and as well as the big cities.”
Took also explains how he has matured since the band formed eight years ago, “Well, I guess I’m a bit more savvy to the industry and to the world in general.” Playing big festivals like Leeds have also shaped how the band view success. “We come back each year, and the tents and the crowds are getting bigger and more people singing along and you always no matter where you are in your career you always want a little bit more.” Took goes on to say how they want to experiment with their sound and deliver something new, “I think people get bored if you keep regurgitating the same fucking record.”
With a new record on the horizon entitled ‘The Glow, which is released on the 10th of July, Took talks us through the songwriting process while working with producers such as Scott Horsecroft who produced the tracks ‘Silver’ and ‘Round and Round’ and legendary producer Stuart Price whose credits include Madonna, Pet Shop Boys, The Killers and New Order. “Watching Stuart work with synthesisers and even little things like we didn’t separate the control room and the live room, he really liked a bedroom kind of setup,” remarks Took.
Inspiration was another topic we tackled, in which Took responded: “A big thing was finding that fine line between where beats and sequences and synthesisers still work with noisy guitars, which bands like New Order do really well, sonically they get that thing down pat, and we didn’t want to go completely electronic you know, we still wanted to keep those overdriven guitar tones and the acoustic you know and these things that have made DMA’S.”
One of the best quotes from the interview (of which there are many) “More than ever, DMA’S have always been a pop band in the sense that we write pop melodies, I guess we took this chance to be using one of the greatest producers around at the moment that we wanted to make a big fucking pop album,” enthuses Took.
With music taking up a lot of Took’s life, he talks what other passions he has outside of the creative direction of DMA’S. “I guess I’m quite a social person I love going out, seeing friends and going to restaurants like everyone does”, Took remarks. He also comments on how exercise can be vital for creative people in general, even if it is just going for a daily walk. “I’m not really that way inclined naturally, but when I force myself to do it I always get some vitamins, get some sunshine into my eyes and go for a walk, and I feel like I get more out of my day in that regard.”
One of the hobbies that Took also found as a good outlet is reading, “reading is really good, I used to only read non-fiction books, old biographies and stuff like that but now I’ve been getting into more fiction books and enjoying reading in that kind of way”.
After the insights that Johnny revealed during the interview, it makes the wait for the new album even more worth it.
Interview: Dom Smith / Words: Brett Herlingshaw
Listen to the chat below: